Liz Carmouche is a relative newcomer to the MMA game, she started her career in 2010. But after vaulting herself to the top of the women’s welterweight rankings with a smashing 5-0 record start to her career, she further cemented her legacy with a Shane Carwin-esque performance against Strikeforce 135 pound women’s champ Marloes Coenen last spring. If you haven’t seen it, Carmouche came in as an incredibly late replacement for an injured Miesha Tate and came as close as you can to winning the title without actually winning it. Despite her heart wrenching loss, Liz has kept to training herself and others, now she fights again.
Things don’t get any easier tonight for Liz as she faces former champ Sarah Kaufman in the cage at Strikeforce Challengers, and that’s exactly how Girl-Rilla likes it. Rumor has it this Strikeforce Challengers bout may be for the right to face the winner of Miesha Tate and Marloes Coenen who face each other for the title at Fedor vs Hendo, so you can expect fireworks between Liz and Kaufman tonight. We talked to the former Marine Girl-Rilla about her possible title contention, her life and Harry Potter of course in this exclusive interview.
How did you get the Girl-Rilla nickname? Ha my coach for a few reasons. One being the ridiculous faces I would make during practice whether I was inflicting pain or receiving pain. On top of that I like to climb on the cage and jump on the cage and do crazy stuff like that.
How did you get hooked up with Ranger UP? A teammate Alex Soto who was in the Army and was sponsored by them helped me reach out to them since I was in the Marine Corps so I talked to them and we built a relationship.
Recently they have had some sponsorship issues with Zuffa…how cool is it that they are paying everyone still? Oh it’s amazing! There have been some roadblocks and restrictions from Zuffa along the way for sponsorships so it has been difficult but I want to be loyal and stick with the sponsors I have that have been great to me for as long as possible.
Dana White said on the conference call that he wasn’t a fan of women’s MMA, how does that make you feel as a fighter in the premier women’s organization? It’s mixed feelings. I can understand at this point that there are feelings that there isn’t a deep pool of talent in women’s MMA and I get that. There aren’t a lot of options but I think the women have proven by getting fight of the night etc and gaining as many fans as the men have that it proves that we have the right to be in MMA and hopefully it changes his viewpoint.
Does a victory over Sarah Kauffman give you a title shot? There is word on that and I would like it to be the case but there is no definitive word on that.
The Ranger UP guys are kind of nerdy, do you fit in to that stereotype? Did you see the final Harry Potter over the weekend? I absolutely saw that last Harry Potter so I guess if that throws me into that stereotype so be it. I’m a full time college student so I’m a little nerdy, a little geeky but at the same time I’m an athlete through and through.
What are you going to college for? I want to be a physical therapist or personal trainer at my actual gym
Did you read the Harry Potter books? Eh it fell into my usual ADD bad habits where I start something and don’t finish it. I made it through almost four of the books and then I fell off the bandwagon and didn’t finish the rest. I love the films though, it’s cool to see what you imagine the characters and scenes to look like and it’s really cool.
The fourth book is where I fell off too but then it gets better I promise. It seems like you are on the social media a lot, Twitter and Facebook. You’re a fan eh? Actually I’m not a big fan of Twitter or even Facebook so much, I prefer Facebook over Twitter because you can interact with people better but I have a coach who encourages me to stick with it and he helps come up with some creative ideas to put on Facebook and Twitter?
So tell us about this summer camp you are running? Yeah I’ve been teaching kids MMA and kids Muay Thai at my gym three days out of the week and since so many kids are asking about it we are going to offer a week long camp to kind of let the kids get away for a night or a few hours from the parents.
What is the age range on that? 4-16
A lot of people have been discussing the age factor in MMA and how young is too young, are you a big proponent at training at a young age? Yes, I don’t think competing at a young age is good so much, I think they should wait and their body should develop. I certainly believe in getting into martial arts from a young age, it teaches you discipline and hard work and understanding of what it means to work hard to get something. You work towards a belt and that is an important goal for kids at that age.
You were so close against Marloes. Even though it was a loss, what did you take a way from that fight? I took a lot away from that fight. Having only fought for oh ten months at the time and she has been doing it since I was sixteen actually, it was a big wake up call for me. When I was sixteen I was playing soccer and not even thinking about competing at the time and she was already in combat sports. It blows my mind fighting her when ten years ago she was doing that and I never knew I would make it to these heights.
It’s kind of a meteoric rise unlike anything really in MMA, not to make excuses, but if you had more time to prepare do you think the outcome would have been different? I can only hope that that would be the case and I play it out in my head but who really knows? It could have ended in some other way. Maybe I slip on sweat, anything. It’s MMA and that’s great because there are so many opportunities.
This is something that comes up a lot, you as a lesbian fighter, do you think that is counter intuitive to the equality many gay people are trying to seek? Well I’m not necessarily trying to throw it in any one’s faces or anything. Actually up until recently it hasn’t been discussed a lot so it’s kind of new for me and a new topic to discuss. It’s refreshing to hear some new questions. It’s actually been really nice. I’m not trying to be an advocate but I’m not trying to hide it.
Has it been difficult for your career at all? No, not even slightly. Between sparring partners and trainers they have been nothing but supportive and encouraging. No problems at all.